May 17th, 2022 - Question Period - Privy Council Office
Senator Gold, on Friday, the federal government appealed the decision recognizing that the position of Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick must be held by a person “capable of executing all tasks required of the Role of Lieutenant-Governor in both the English and the French Languages.” Despite the government’s fine words, its intentions are now clear. The Prime Minister wants to retain the privilege of appointing lieutenant-governors who can’t communicate in French. Senator Gold, why is the Liberal government dragging Acadians through an appeal rather than supporting them and recognizing their rights?
Thank you for the question. That is a fundamental issue. The Government of Canada recognizes that it is essential to appoint lieutenant-governors who are proficient in both official languages, given New Brunswick’s status as a bilingual province.
The decision to appeal the ruling of the Court of Queen’s Bench does not in any way compromise the government’s commitment to protecting and promoting linguistic duality, which includes our modernization of the Official Languages Act. Going forward, the government is committed to appointing bilingual lieutenant-governors in New Brunswick, starting with the next appointment process.
Senator Gold, the list of controversies is growing, and they include the appointment of a unilingual Governor General and a unilingual Lieutenant-Governor, a quasi‑appeal as a result of a broad interpretation of Part VII of the Official Languages Act, concerns regarding child care agreements without language clauses for francophones, the unilingualism of CN and Air Canada executives, a press conference given by the Minister of Immigration in English only, and lastly, this decision to appeal Justice DeWare’s ruling. How can Acadians and minority language communities be sure that your government is working to advance linguistic duality when its actions, including the decision it made on Friday to appeal the ruling, prove otherwise?
Thank you for the question. As I said, the decision to appeal the ruling does not indicate a lack of commitment. The Minister of Justice said that there are some important principles at play in the reasons for judgment set out in the ruling that the government decided to appeal. These principles include the process for amending the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As for your question, more generally, I encourage you to take a close look at the official languages bill to see how committed the government is to minority language communities, including francophones in your province.